[Interview] – Author Patrick R. McDonough

By Garrett Witt

Welcome all. Today I’m very lucky to be interviewing a growing name in the indie horror/scifi field, Patrick R. McDonough. 

GW – Hi Patrick, thank you for agreeing to this interview. Tell us a little about yourself and your background? 

PRM – Hello Garrett. Thank you for having me! I’m a New Englander that moved to southern New Jersey a few years ago with my wife. I have a handful of pets and our first child, Philip, on the way! 

GW – Congratulations on your first born. I’m sure you’re very excited. Tell us, What were you like at school? Did you enjoy it?

PRM – Thank you. Couldn’t be more thrilled! From the time I began learning how to read, up to high school, I loved it. Not sure what caused this but I went on a hiatus in high school from reading. I was a B/C student and only enjoyed history, computer, and writing courses. 

GW – When did you decide to become a writer?

PRM – I’m not sure I ever decided it. It’s more like a calling. We’re all meant to do something, writing is one of the things I was meant to do. I do know when I decided to start writing in a serious manner (to become published and hone my craft in both a creative and technical sense), it was when I met my wife back in 2013. She is my biggest inspiration in life.

GW – What are your ambitions for your writing career? 

PRM – Right now I’m concentrating on having as many short stories (and hopefully a novella or two) published through a few magazines and anthologies. Beyond that, I’m trying not to think of too much more or I’ll lose focus.

GW – Which writers inspire you?

PRM – Lovecraft, King, Rich Hawkins, Lydian Faust, Paul Tremblay, and Mark Cassell. 

GW – What are you currently working on? What’s it about? 

PRM –  A dark sci-fi/horror choose-your-own adventure short story, for an anthology (fingers crossed), and a zombie story (uncertain if it’ll be a novella or a novel at this point). 

GW –  That sounds great! Do you have a favorite zombie story? 

PRM – I have a few favorites: Shaun of the Dead, 28 Days Later, and Train to Busan.

GW – What draws you to horror and sci-fi? 

PRM – The first memory of a horror drawing me in was when I was 1. That was the year Stephen King’s IT–the television adaptation–first aired. Pennywise scared the shit out of me. I don’t know why but throughout my entire life, the things that scared me the most, fascinated me the most. And sci-fi, to me, is horror’s cousin. They both share many similarities and address questions I think about on a regular basis: death, how I’d handle a scary situation, the universe, other dimensions, future tech and social structures. 

GW – Why do you write?

PRM – It’s one of the very few things that I don’t doubt my abilities in. It’s also one of the few things in life that no matter how many rejections come my way, I won’t ever stop doing it.

GW – Do you write five days a week? How often do you write?

PRM – I wish! I feel like a lazy writer for not writing seven days a week, but life happens. I write as often as I can, which usually ends up being 3 or 4 days per week. I try to write in my office, but if I can’t, I’ll put on some headphones and write wherever I am.

GW – Do you aim for a set amount of words/pages per day?

PRM – For first drafts, I aim for 2,000 words a session. I’ve only recently learned to appreciate the art of editing, so when I edit I aim for 5 pages per session.

GW – I’ve been lucky enough to read some of your work, and while entertaining, I also find your ideas original. Where do your ideas stem from?

PRM – They come at random times, usually one idea stacked or intertwined with another. Every idea has one thing in common, they all begin with me asking, “what if…”

GW – Do you outline/plot or do you prefer just seeing where an idea takes you?

PRM – I haven’t figured that out yet. Reason being, I do both. If a story feels too complex without an outline, I outline. How loose an outline is varies per story. 

GW – How do you think you’ve evolved creatively?

PRM – I think the more feedback I get on why stories or characters DON’T work, the more it helps hone my creativity. I feel like I’ve evolved as a creative person over the last six years nicely. 

GW – What is the hardest thing about writing?

PRM – Starting. I LOVE writing, but some days it’s hard to write that first word. 

GW – What is the easiest thing about writing?

PRM – The nth draft. Ha. After the story starts to take form and I understand where it’s heading, it gets a bit easier.

GW – Any tips on how to get through the dreaded writer’s block?

PRM – Put that story to the side, a week, two weeks, a month, and work on something else. If the idea is still pestering you then give it another shot with a fresh mind and eyes. 

GW – Do you ever get writer’s Block?

PRM – No. Then again, I’m a writer that doesn’t believe in that. I think people get stuck on ideas for different reasons, but what it boils down to is some ideas aren’t meant to be expanded. Some ideas should just stay an idea. Other ideas aren’t meant to be worked on when you want to first explore them.

GW – Do you read much and if so who are your favorite authors?

PRM – I try reading every day. My favorite authors are Stephen King, H.P. Lovecraft, J.R.R. Tolkien, and Rich Hawkins.

GW – I love book covers. I think sometimes I’m sold just on the cover art alone. Do you think that the cover plays an important part in the buying process?

PRM – Absolutely. A cover is a promise to the reader. It sets tone. Sometimes it can even set an atmosphere. It’s actually how I discovered one of my favorite sci-fi books, The Windup Girl by Paolo Bacigalupi. It caught my eye amongst a row of books at the local store I shop at. It looked amazing. On the cover was this elephant amongst a city marketplace, with towering buildings in the backdrop, and zeppelins in the air. I wanted to read about that world. Lucky for me, the cover followed through with it’s promise of a grim tone and intriguing atmosphere.

GW – What do you do to get book reviews?

PRM – I reach out to as many reviewers as I can. I have limited experience, but the handful that have responded to me (you being one of them, ha) have been a delight to talk to.

GW – How successful has your quest for reviews been so far?

PRM – I’d say so far I’ve been successful 50%-60% of the time. 

GW – What are your thoughts on good/bad reviews?

PRM – I personally don’t write bad or negative reviews. If I don’t like a book, I don’t write a review for it. It’s just the type of person I am. If someone were to write a bad review for one of my stories, at the very least I’d hope they would offer constructive criticism on what didn’t work for them. 

GW – What’s your views on social media for marketing?

PRM – It’s incredible. I’m very happy and grateful for being a writer during this period.

GW – Which social network work best for you?

PRM – Twitter and facebook. 

GW – How do you relax?

PRM – Reading and writing, listening to music, and watching sitcoms (The Office, Seinfeld, South Park, and It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia). Shows that allow me to turn my brain off and laugh my ass off.

GW – Where can you see yourself in 5 years as a writer?

PRM – I think I’ll have a few short stories published and if all goes well, a novel or two under my belt.

GW – What is your favorite movie and why?

PRM – Damn, that’s a tough one. There’s SO many to choose from. I can’t pick one, so here’s three of my favorites: Chappie, The Matrix, and the 1999 remake of House on Haunted Hill.

GW – What advice would you give to your younger self?

PRM – Learn to appreciate my education more, and don’t go on a damn hiatus from reading and writing!

GW – Which famous person, living or dead would you like to meet and why?

PRM – Benjamin Franklin, because I’m a history junkie and when it comes down to it, he’s the most influential person that shaped modern America. I’d love to listen to his thoughts on the 21st century.

GW – If you could have been the original author of any book, what would it have been and why?

PRM – I Am Legend. It’s PERFECT. It’s not too long and that book will, and has, stood the test of time.

GW – What advice would you give to aspiring writers?

PRM – Just do it. Seriously. Start writing. And expect your early stories to suck. 

GW – Where do you see publishing going in the future?

PRM – Using new formats to deliver stories. Maybe it’ll be through smart glasses, I’m not sure, but I do know that books will always be in both physical and digital form. 

GW – Is there anything else you would like to add that I haven’t included?

PRM – I’m just excited to see where my future lies and hoping to make a name in both the horror and sci-fi market. 

Patrick R. McDonough / @PRMcDonough

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